BC community forest audit identifies bylaw issue: BCFPB
By Forest Practices Board
By Forest Practices Board
The Cheakamus Community Forest Limited Partnership (CCF) has met almost all requirements of the provincial Forest and Range Practices Act, the Wildfire Act and related land-use orders, with the exception of a requirement to address fire hazards following logging activity.
In one cutblock with two piles of logging debris, which are called slash piles, the CCF did not meet the requirements of the Wildfire Act to dispose of the piles to reduce wildfire hazards. Eight additional slash piles were also not disposed of but were located within the boundaries of the Resort Municipality of Whistler, where municipal bylaws supersede some sections of the Wildfire Act. However, Whistler’s bylaws do not include a requirement to address debris left after industrial activities.
“Leaving this slash created a significant wildfire risk,” said Kevin Kriese, chair of the Forest Practices Board. “These piles were adjacent to forest service roads in areas with significant public use and unregulated camping. The risk of a fire starting in these piles was significant, and this is a gap in the local bylaws. The board is recommending the municipality update its bylaws to create a requirement equivalent to the Wildfire Act.”
The CCF harvested two cutblocks during the audit period to reduce forest fuels and the risk of a wildfire starting or spreading near the community. The board is pleased to see the CCF proactively managing forest fuels in the area, and this needs to be supported by proper disposal of slash following harvest. The CCF also maintained 67 kilometres of road and 11 crossing structures, and carried out reforestation and regeneration activities.
Auditors also examined relevant requirements in the Sea to Sky Land and Resource Management Plan and legal objectives for the Whistler Interpretive Forest, including protection of old growth, cultural places, forest health, recreation, riparian areas, water, wildlife and visual-quality values. The CCF’s activities were consistent with these objectives and requirements.
Since the audit work was completed in September 2021, the CCF has disposed of the slash piles and reduced the fire hazard.
The Cheakamus Community Forest is located in and around the Resort Municipality of Whistler, in the Sea to Sky Forest District, and within the territories of the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations.
The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board audits forest and range practices on public lands and appropriateness of government enforcement. It can also make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.